We can tell the truth about anything, except people and situations that deal with people. Not just any type of truth like your sister is pregnant, someone is terminally ill, or someone graduated from college. You know the truths I’m talking about. Those ugly little (or big) truths about people we know, especially people that we’re close to. It doesn’t matter if it’s a co-worker or employee, a parent, a child, a best friend, a spouse, a partner, or a patient.
People can be world-renowned doctors, rocket scientists, esteemed clergy, politicians, wealthy business people, police, therapist/counselors, teachers, prosecutors, or a small restaurant owner. The career doesn’t matter. The educational attainment level doesn’t matter. The bank account doesn’t matter. Not even a person’s religion matters when it comes to truth. There are some ugly truths about all of us at any given time we simply don’t want to hear, we don’t want to know, and we definitely don’t want to talk about.
Those darn truths. You know the ones that hurt your feelings really bad. The kind that people refuse to see because it doesn’t reflect the “best” of them. The truths that shows them in a negative light. The kind of truths that cut deep. The kind of truth that forces people to re-evaluate who they are, what they thought they saw in themselves, or even what they believed about themselves. The kind of hurtful truths that force people to deny the obvious about themselves or their loved ones.
If life has taught me one thing, it’s taught me that we humans will do anything except accept the truth.
What We Can’t Say
Husbands and significant others can’t tell their spouses dinner is horrible, or that they are horrible cooks period. We couldn’t dare hurt their feelings, so we suffer in silence and allow the spouse to live a lie. We can’t tell our kids they suck sometimes, or that they are acting horrible when they are being disrespectful and rude. Instead, we must spare their feelings so they can grow up floating throughout life being the type of person people hate. Thanks helicopter parenting.
Some micromanaging parents have created children who are unable to accept truths from other people who are not their parents. It’s not helpful, as a matter of fact… it’s pretty darn toxic. These folks have average kids trying to pass them off to the world as exceptional. All they’ve done is created a narcissist. You know those parents. You better not tell them the truth.
Side Note: Ummmm… this is really personal because it was me. I had a child that had all the potential in the world, yet he chose a different path than we originally planned. I lived in the home with him, and loved him dearly and was unable to see the “flaws” being pointed out by others. The people at church were giving me nuggets. I denied them. The teachers and coaches at school were gently telling me my boy was walking and talking in two different directions. I didn’t believe and I couldn’t hear them even though they were with my kids all day everyday.
Instead of believing what they were saying about my kid, I accused them of not seeing his potential, disliking him, or better yet, listening to the problem kids. Well, low and behold senior year of high school arrived and everything people said about this kid and saw in his character had manifested for me to see. By then, I’d had so many issues with him, there was not really any reason for me not to see it.
But if I had been willing to accept the truth from others, I could have spared myself all the trouble. I could have poured into my other two children who weren’t giving me any problems and who could have used the extra attention. I sacrificed two in an effort to try and save one. Fortunately, the other kids turned out well. But the one kid, the troubled kid…at twenty-seven years old is still giving me trouble.
The truth was there all along in plain view. I just refused it. One of my biggest regrets!
We can’t tell our spouses they aren’t pulling their weight in the relationship, or that their unkind words hurt. One is allowed to be, while the other is forced to suffer in silence. A spouse can’t complain about sex, the lack of it, or express his/her desire for “spicing it up” without offending. If you eat the same food every day, you’ll eventually get tired of it. If you wear the same clothes and shoes every day, they’ll eventually wear out. So why do we think having the same vanilla sex won’t get old?
It does, but for some reason we simply can’t talk about it. It’s insane.
Teachers can’t tell parents how horrible their children act when they aren’t in their presence. Nonprofits can’t talk about how excessively needy and abusive some of their consumers are. We can’t tell our politicians they are liars even though we are being lied to right to our faces. Can’t call the pastor a bigot, and you certainly can’t tell an older loved one how much of a mean ass they’ve become in their old age, even though they nearly put you into tears with each interaction.
It seems we are constantly walking around in either one of two states:
We’re either in a state of denial, or a state of withholding truth(s).
For some weird reason people are unable to tell their friends basic things such as they have spinach in their teeth. They can’t tell their friends they are “not so fresh down there” in the down there department, or they can’t honestly share they accidentally stumbled upon their best friend’s husband cheating. The person on the receiving end may not take it well
Yes the truth is uncomfortable. But just because it’s uncomfortable doesn’t mean we should ignore it.
Why is it so hard to tell the truth? We can’t tell the truth because the truth hurts, and God forbid a person hurts. Most people feel it’s not right to hurt others even when it’s done in love and without malice.
Sometimes when we withhold the truth, we in fact ensure people are hurt albeit later on down the road. Why is sharing the truth so hard, and why won’t we allow people to tell us the truth? Why do we pretend to have it all together, and that we are without flaws?
In my opinion it’s one of the great unknowns.
Some people may think failing to tell the truth is okay, when in all actuality your neglecting to tell and accept the truth is living a lie.
I can’t say your sex sucks. So I must continue to have bad sex instead of sitting down talking about how to make the sex better so we both can enjoy the act. I’m living a lie.
I can’t say your kids act terribly when out of your eye shot. Maybe you don’t really know the true character of your kids. After trying to tell you once, I fall back. Your kids now know they have you wrapped around their fingers. They are in full Chucky 5.0 mode. You know those kids. Stop making excuses for them.
I can’t tell my black friends they are sometimes just as racist as white people. I can’t tell my white friends some of their views and actions are microaggressions of racism. I keep my truth to myself.
I can’t tell a partner he should seek therapy because he engages in some questionable (but legal) activities that borderline addiction. They are impacting his intimate relationships. He insists it’s a hobby even though a day doesn’t go by that he isn’t engaged in the activity. I’m forced to question what I see and what the truth actually is, allowing him to damage more people along the way.
When You Can’t Share Your Own Truths
There are times in life when you have your own truths you need to disclose. Personal truths you’ve discovered via living life and self discovery. Sometimes these truths are old hurts or wounds you were prevented from telling. While your truths may be personal, they aren’t always well received when spoken aloud.
I can remember when I was in high school I said I didn’t want to get married and I didn’t want kids (for the record I did both). After I got married and had kids, I discovered it’s not all that it’s cracked up to be. The “in thing” wasn’t so in anymore. Raising kids is hard with or without a partner. Giving so much of yourself with very little in return FOR SO LONG is hard. Being a wife is hard. Even with money, raising kids and being married is hard work. I never saw any healthy models of child rearing and marriage when I was growing up, so I knew it wasn’t for me.
But somewhere along the crooked road of life I ran into people who eventually influenced me that their lifestyle choices were best for my life. My new role was cemented in stone, according to the way of the Bible belt.
I discovered I was right and wrong.
I wished I didn’t have kids. I wished I never got married. I can say it now, but at one point in my life I was shunned for saying how I felt so that I could appease my friends. I was not speaking my own truth in order to coddle those around me. It was the same about my personal discovery about marriage as it relates to me. It turns out I really knew myself earlier in life after all.
I was at least willing to admit I disliked marriage. My friends on the other hand would rather have discreet affairs to compete with their spouses affairs in order to keep the peace in the household. Some spouses decided to “pray” their spouse’s affairs away, in denial of the obvious.
My truth got trumped. It hurt back then. But I see differently now. People love lies and fantasy over truth.
I was molested by a close family member when I was young. I told my mother. She told me “I was not going to mess up her good thing,” and disregarded my disclosure. My truth was discounted in order for her to keep something (or rather someone) who was dear to her. In the end, she lost us both. The loved one she valued over her kid left her, and we have no relationship. Withholding my truth tormented me and prevented me from having a normal healthy relationship with my mother.
As I got older, I was able to share my truth about my abuse. Many people believed me, but there were some close relatives that gave me the dummy face. They knew the truth but didn’t want to face it. Good old convenient fleeting truth.
Eventually the truth was revealed to some family, but it has always been denied by the person it should have mattered to the most, my parents. Justice was denied because someone failed to accept my truth.
Not being able to tell the truth early in life changed my personality, and likely the trajectory of my life. Had I been able to speak the truth freely as a kid, I would be able to speak freely as an adult today.
I learned it’s better to shut up and live lies.
Although the pattern started in my home at an early age, people of all ages throughout my life have helped to reinforce the pattern by denying and fearing truth. It’s a dangerous precedence to set.
The truth indeed sets us free. Lies keep us bound, tied to fantasies. I’m no longer living lies to protect and pretend. I tell truth tactfully, but I tell it.
Gone are the days of foregoing the truth. My friends, my family, my children, and close acquaintances get nothing but the truth from me. I’d rather not be friends with a person than live a lie. If you don’t like truth, keep it moving. I get eye rolls, dirty glances, and flat out denials but at the end of the day I’m free.
The truth bombs are delivered. Delivery times may vary, but always delivered.
I refuse to allow people I care about to walk around ignorant no matter how much the truth hurts. I also expect the same truth in return. Please, tell me about myself. I want to be better. I don’t want to hurt anyone. I want to be a good human.
Be a good truth teller. Be an even better truth receiver. The truth can be painful, but it can also be freeing. The truth makes us all better.
Thank you for reading!
Now tell the truth, have you had experiences where you were unable to be truthful with friends or family? Do tell. It happens more often than we care to admit.